Federal Prosecutors Investigate Spending by Trump’s Inaugural Committee
The committee responsible for Donald Trump's inauguration as president in 2017 has received a subpoena from federal prosecutors at the Southern District of New York (SDNY) demanding a comprehensive range of documents involving the committee's donors, finances, attendees and activities.
The federal investigation into the committee involves possible financial abuses related to the $107 million in donations raised for Trump's inauguration, said CNN. The inaugural committee raised this unprecedented sum from wealthy donors who gave $1 million or more. This was twice the amount raised by any previous inauguration committee.
The problem is the committee never gave a legal accounting of how it spent the money and who the money came from, hence the SDNY investigation. Pundits agree the actual inauguration expenses will have been only a fraction of this huge amount. The inauguration committee reported having only $2.8 million in the bank by October 2017.
CNN said the wide-ranging SDNY subpoena includes allegations of conspiracy to defraud the United States government; inaugural committee disclosure violations; money laundering; mail and wire fraud; false statements; disclosure violations; violations of laws prohibiting contributions by foreign nations and contributions in the name of another person, which is also known as straw donors.
In December 2018 federal prosecutors at SDNY and Brooklyn began investigating if foreigners from certain Middle East countries sought to buy influence over American policies. These Middle Easterners were said to have used straw donors to illegally funnel donations to Trump's inaugural committee and a pro-Trump Super PAC.
The subpoena appears to escalate SDNY's ongoing investigation into crimes committed by Trump's inauguration committee, said CNN.
The subpoena requires Trump's inauguration committee to turn over documents related to virtually every donor or donation; every piece of paperwork related to the legal requirements attached to donations; every attendee at the inauguration and the possibility of donations made by foreign nationals.
It also demands documents related to any "benefits" offered to donors, including "tickets, photo opportunities, and/or small group receptions." It further requires the committee to turn over information about donations made directly to vendors, as well as communications discussing that possibility.
"We have just received a subpoena for documents," said a spokesman for Trump's inauguration committee. "While we are still reviewing the subpoena, it is our intention to cooperate with the inquiry."
The committee consisted of Thomas J. Barrack Jr., (a Trump friend and ally) as chairman. Members were Miriam Adelson; Steve Wynn; Phil Ruffin, Harold Hamm; Diane Hendricks; Joe Craft, Gail Icahn; Ray Washburne, Gentry Beach; Roy Bailey and Woody Johnson.